GlobalFoundries, the computer chipmaker with a major manufacturing plant at the Luther Forest Technology Campus, has become the second-largest chip foundry in the world, according to a new research firm’s report.
The research firm Gartner reported that GlobalFoundries in 2015 had 9.6 percent of the contract chip market worldwide, and earned nearly $4.7 billion in revenue, a 6.2 percent increase from 2014.
Gartner said that means GlobalFoundries has passed United Microelectronics of Taiwan, which saw its revenue decline 1.3 percent last year, with 9.3 percent of the market. It slipped to No. 3, the position GlobalFoundries held in 2014.
Even at No. 2, GlobalFoundries is still far behind industry leader Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., which has 54 percent of the foundry market and in 2015 had $26.5 billion in revenue.
Foundry companies make semiconductor chips under contract for companies that don’t have their own manufacturing facilities, such as Apple.
Foundry work overall grew 4.4 percent last year, according to Gartner, despite a general downturn for the semiconductor market.
“Foundry growth was only possible from the high wafer demand by Apple and the revenue conversion if a few integrated device manufacturers to foundries,” said Samuel Wang, Gartner’s research vice president.
Gartner is projecting that overall worldwide chip sales, which fell 2.3 percent in 2015, will fall again in 2016, though by less than 1 percent.
GlobalFoundries employs about 2,900 people at its Fab 8 complex in Malta and Stillwater. About 150 jobs were cut through buyouts and layoffs last year, with company officials citing the downturn.
GlobalFoundries officials have never confirmed they are making chips for Apple’s popular electronic communications devices, but GlobalFoundries has a joint technology agreement with Samsung, which has contracts with Apple.
Fab 8, which began manufacturing in 2012, is still gearing up to full production. Also in 2015, GlobalFoundries acquired former IBM chip plants in Essex Junction, Vermont, and East Fishkill, increasing its manufacturing capacity.
The company, which is owned by an Abu Dhabi government investment fund, also has plants in Singapore and Dresden, Germany.